Darkroom Mirror (0X5A0752)

Collection of the artist, courtesy of DOCUMENT, Chicago, and Vielmetter Los Angeles

Paul Mpagi Sepuya engages in the possibilities of picture making with mirrors and photography. In Darkroom Mirror (0X5A0752), the glass surface is a pictorial tool, reflecting two intertwined bodies in the studio. The mirror’s smudges appear as smoke like areas in the otherwise sharp composition. The artist has said that he is “interested in Blackness, and thinking about it materially and visually for what it produces in images, and how it’s inseparable from the production of photographs.”

This scene, that of two embracing Black men, one averting our gaze and the other with his face hidden behind the camera, raises questions about visibility and anonymity. Sepuya renders the figures—and all that they may stand for, including queerness and Blackness—both visible and not.